What You Need to Know About Buying a Used Car

The decision to buy used versus buying new usually comes down to money. As everyone knows, the second you drive that brand new car off the lot, it takes a huge drop in value.

But buying a used car is a risky proposition. If you’re not careful, you could wind up with a lemon that winds up being more of a money pit than a trusted tool.

So to increase your odds of finding a great deal for a reliable used car, follow these five steps before you hand over any money for the keys.

Don’t forget to do your research

There’s a wealth of research on the internet about virtually every make and model of every vehicle produced since Henry Ford. Researching can help you narrow down your options, give you a good idea of price, and give you the upper hand in negotiations.

Test-driving a used car

The all-important test drive should be more than a simple spin around the block. The car should “feel” good to you. It should handle well, and you should be alert for any troubling sounds or smells (that means turning off the radio during the test drive).

One good trick is to find a safe area to test the car’s acceleration. A car that accelerates well is a sign of a healthy engine. If it accelerates slowly, or if it jerks or is too loud, then it may have some hidden problems.

Get it inspected by a trusted mechanic

If at all possible, arrange to have the car inspected by a mechanic before you even begin negotiations. A private seller might be more willing to let you do this than a used car salesman, but you should push for an inspection, nonetheless.

If a car is Certified Pre-Owned (CPO), then it’s already undergone a rigorous inspection, and shouldn’t need another one.

Negotiation time

The tactics of negotiation can get complex, but to be successful you should remember these two things: never let the other party know if you are excited about a specific car, and don’t be afraid to simply walk away.

As long as you follow these five steps when buying a used car, you should avoid most bad deals. Of course, there will always be a chance that you’ll wind up with a lemon anyway, but that’s the risk you take when you buy used.

For more car advice, and for information on buying auto insurance, check out our blog!